Refugees of the Apocalypse: What Makes Scavenger Unique
Scavenger is something of an apocalyptic world. The pitch for it is simple: the world of Akara is dying, and the World Torn Apart is humanity's last hope for survival. This is not a unique pitch. Change a few words and see what happens: the world of Athas is dying, and Sorcerer-Kings (or psionics or the Dragon or…) is humanity’s last hope for survival. Another: The world of Crifoth is dying, and a traitorous archdemon is humanity’s last hope for survival. In other words, on the surface, these apocalypse-plagued worlds can strike readers as pretty samey.
But there’s always a bit of nuance that separates them. Example: Crifoth is a game about people fighting against literal Hell to escape slavery. That last bit is key, since demon-human slavery is a bigger focus than in Dark Sun. Aesthetic, too, separates these worlds. In Athas magic is environmentally murderous, there is no metal, and psionic powers makes even the mundane strikingly weird. These are ways to keep the apocalypse fresh by changing how it feels in terms of “What is my character looking like?” or “What is my character fighting against?”
Scavenger includes similar elements, but we wanted to take it somewhere else too. Instead of exploring only apocalyptic fantasy like some of these other great pillars have, we wanted our setting to tell types of stories that, so far, have been absent in tabletop gaming.
This is the Refugee Story.
Let’s put it like this: Scavenger isn’t just about surviving an apocalypse. It’s a story about being displaced. Your characters are being forced to move from one part of Akara to another, and in some instances forced to move into an entirely new universe. In this way, it’s intensely personal; instead of a focus on killing enemies or eating everything you find or rushing to get as much power as possible or becoming the biggest fish, the focus is on where do I go now and what happened to my loved ones after they scattered and what are the dangers of this new home.
To some, this might sound boring, but Scavenger is still a world for 5th Edition. There are monsters and combats and weird magics and all kinds of things that we (and all D&D player's) have come to love. There are striking villains and places desperately in need of heroes. There’s cool loot to find and weird dungeons to explore. But at the heart of it sits the theme of displacement. Scavengers haven’t forgotten the history of their world. They remember their homes, their old lives, and are trying to recapture that somewhere new. They, and almost everyone else that lives in Akara, are refugees forced to go to increasingly more alien extremes to rebuild their lives.
And all this isn’t to say that Crifoth or Dark Sun are worse than Scavenger. Crifoth is a setting I enjoy thoroughly, and Dark Sun is an absolute masterpiece and the first fantasy setting of its kind. Both offer tremendously cool experiences to be shared. It’s because these settings are such great pillars that the Scavenger project wants to take a new route to keeping the apocalypse fresh. We’re still working out the kinks but we think we have something here that, when applied to your normal games, will keep you coming back for more.